A mum from Ealing is speaking out about her traumatic ordeal following mesh surgery, and is encouraging others to do the same.

Adèle Yemm, 46, had mesh surgery in 2013 to treat mild stress incontinence following the birth of her daughter. She has suffered from chronic pelvic pain ever since.

Initially, Mrs Yemm agreed to try physiotherapy, but she was later advised to have a tension-free vaginal tape (TVT) inserted.

Many mesh patients start to experience pain years after their surgery, however, Mrs Yemm was in agony as soon as she regained consciousness.

“I woke up from surgery feeling like I was being eaten alive by ants,” she said. “It was so painful. Imagine the sting of a splinter, except this splinter was 20cm long and two centimetres wide.”

Despite consenting to a TVT, Mrs Yemm discovered post-operation that she had undergone a transobturator tape (TOT) procedure. Whereas a TVT is inserted into the space between the urethra and the bladder, a TOT is inserted through the groin creases at the top of the leg, a more nerve-rich area.

“I was actively persuaded to have mesh surgery but never told of any of the risks of a TOT,” she said. “In fact, I was assured that as long as I had a caesarean section if I had more children, the known risks were minimal.”

More than seven years later, Mrs Yemm remains in pain and looking after her young children has proved challenging.

“I woke up from surgery feeling like I was being eaten alive by ants. It was so painful. Imagine the sting of a splinter, except this splinter was 20cm long and two centimetres wide.”

Adèle Yemm

She has undergone several mesh removal operations and has been unable to work. She suffers from four immune disorders caused by her body’s reaction to the mesh that includes being unable to bend her fingers.

“If I had known the risks I would never have agreed to the surgery,” she said. “I’m lucky to have my husband of 14 years, but for half our married life I haven’t been there as much as I would have liked for him or our young children.

“I used to be an exercise junkie, in the gym every other day, and running 20-30 miles a week, but that stopped overnight in 2013 because of the pain after the mesh operation. But I’m counting my blessings as now after numerous mesh removal operations I have started to be able to do a light jog and play with my kids.”

A year after her surgery a consultant told Mrs Yemm that the TOT was a permanent implant that would have only been possible to remove the day after insertion, something she had never been told prior to the surgery.

After sharing her experiences with her GP, she was advised to seek legal advice. Mrs Yemm has since instructed Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a medical negligence claim.

Mrs Yemm had multiple unsuccessful operations attempting to remove the mesh in the UK before paying to be treated by a specialist in the USA. While it is believed to have been removed, some fragments could still remain.

Linda Millband of Thompsons Solicitors, who is representing Mrs Yemm, said: “Sadly, Adèle’s case isn’t a one-off. We are representing hundreds of women with similar horror stories, and they’re probably just the tip of the iceberg.

“You cannot correct the past but, at the very least, these women deserve an apology. They put their trust in a system that was meant to deliver what was best for the patient, in fact Adele was deceived, misled and let down.

“We are committed to fighting against the use of mesh and prevent the irreparable damage it can cause to others.”